The Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic)
Reindeer hunters (c. 13th/12th to later 10th millennium BC)

The last few hundred thousand years of Greater Poland’s history have been marked by periods of intense cold, brought about by successive glaciations, alternating with transitional warm and humid episodes. It was probably during one of these warmer periods that Neanderthals migrated briefly to this region. It was not, however, until the end of the last Ice Age, more than c. 15 000 years ago, that conditions became favourable to human habitation, with the onset of a warmer climate and the retreat of the ice sheets. Tundra vegetation, such as mosses, lichens, shrubs and dwarf birch, began to grow at the edge of the retreating ice. Animals also started to appear, followed soon after by humans.

The first human settlers arrived in Greater Poland around 13-12 000 BC, probably travelling from the west, following in the tracks of reindeer migrating along the edge of the glaciers. Over the next few thousand years (Late Palaeolithic) the hunting season for these animals dictated the rhythm and way of life for these populations, sometimes referred to as tundra hunters. They led a nomadic way of life, setting up their camps along the reindeer migration routes. They traversed vast territories in numbers large enough to organise group hunts. The exhibition opens with a reconstruction of a reindeer hunters’ lakeside camp dating from c. 12 000 years ago, situated on a reindeer herd’s migration route during a period of cold climate (based on finds from excavations at Wojnowo , Zielona Góra district).